Sale of your home with a non-compliant ex-spouse

Philip Hunter has recently been assisting a client with the enforcement of a final financial order, in which the client’s ex-spouse refused to comply with the terms of the order and engage with the sale of the former family home. Philip has detailed the issues that clients may need to consider in such circumstances.

If your ex-spouse is refusing to co-operate with a court order for the sale of the former matrimonial home, you could consider applying to the court to include a penal notice on the final order, so that any continued breach would result in them being in contempt of court, potentially resulting in a fine or imprisonment. Frequently, these final financial orders contain a “liberty to apply” provision, allowing a party to apply to court for an order that they have sole conduct of the sale of the property.

A further remedy would be to consider applying to the court under section 39(1) of the Senior Courts Act 1981. This provision gives the court the power to order the execution of a deed or document by a nominated person (usually the judge), if a party refuses to comply with an order requiring them to execute the document. However, this is not a simply process –  if there is an order for a sale of property, it is necessary to obtain an order for the execution of the transfer, before an order can be made under section 39(1).

Philip Hunter commented, “The old adage of prevention being better than cure is never truer than in cases where issues over enforcement raise their head. In reality, a refractory party has often demonstrated their approach throughout proceedings and therefore, consideration should be given to the potential scope for difficulty when a final order is drawn up. If a party can demonstrate that their ex has been obstreperous in the court of proceedings, why shouldn’t the court be granting sole conduct of the sale of the property at the conclusion of proceedings, so as to prevent further litigation and costs in the future.”

Serving London, Bedford and the surrounding villages, our lawyers can help you with your family law and financial matters. If you would like to speak to one of our team to discuss your case, contact us today on 0207 177 9777 or 01234 889777.

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